NEW PALESTINE — Students in Angel Hughey’s dual credit Spanish IV class had quite the task this semester.
They had to write a book, translate it into Spanish and then create the book, including artwork. But, that was only part of the project.
It ended with the New Palestine High School seniors sharing their work with first-graders at Sugar Creek Elementary School.
It was a project that benefited both secondary and elementary-age students, educators say.
“We really stress the importance of writing in first grade,” Sugar Creek first-grade teacher Daleen Kleiman said.
“If they are seeing the older kids, the students they look up to, that they are being able to write and create books, it will inspire them to make a book of their own.”
The first-graders also got to hear the NPHS Spanish students deliver their presentation in Spanish.
“It’s just a great learning opportunity for our kids,” Kleiman said.
It’s the same for the high school students.
Jimena Cruz, a senior, was born in Mexico. While she knows Spanish well, she said the project was still challenging and fun.
“The little kids are like, ‘Oh, yes, I want to learn. How do you say this word in Spanish?’ To me that is cute and fun.”
Her group made a Spanish book centered on the snowman character from the popular children’s movie, “Frozen.”
“It’s all about Olaf, and what we did was create his life before the movie,” Cruz said.
She worked with senior classmates Konnor Miller and Sarah Pearson to create the book.
“First, we had to write the story in English and then translate it to Spanish,” Miller said. “Our story was about different animals Olaf meets in the forest, so it is pretty exciting.”
He said they created the artwork and the book with their computers.
Their teacher, Hughey, said the project is an opportunity for the older students to help the younger kids learn about another language and a different culture.
“It’s great to see them give the kids an introduction into another language, particularly Spanish,” Hughey said.
“Just the idea that they get to see there is another language and that there is another world out there outside of New Palestine is a big deal.”
While the high school students were in the classrooms for only a little over an hour, they made an impact, Hughey said.
“When I see kids who are now older, they remember the older kids coming into their classroom,” Hughey said.
“They tell me, ‘I remember those Spanish books and this experience from five and six years ago.’”
The lesson also gave Hughey a chance to cross disciplines in teaching the advanced Spanish students. Not only did they push their Spanish skills to the brink, they also learned how to use special programs on their computers, plus learn creative skills.
“For my senior students, they are doing presentation skills, and they are also being creative because they have to teach these children something,” Hughey said.
“It’s been proven the best way to learn something is through teaching.”
First-grader Jonah Pierce could attest to that. He couldn’t take his eyes off the Spanish book presentation showcasing Olaf.
“That’s cool,” the youngster said when the high school students showed him the Spanish words.
“The exciting thing is for the kids to hear them in making the presentation in Spanish and then learn a few Spanish words,” Kleiman said.